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Posts Tagged ‘Mullah’

First published in Islamabad Dateline

Mystifying is the turn of time, indeed. Refuted by clerics of his time, the same Bulleh Shah who was refused burial in his community graveyard is quoted by contemporary mullahs and holds worldwide reverence today.

Same can be said for all mystic poets who lived to challenge the rigid interpretation of religion prevailing in their times.

One wonders if he would have been charged for blasphemy and assassinated like Taseer or Bhatti if Bulleh were to say ‘whatever is in the heart’  in our society at present — mou’n aye baat na rehndi aye.

His words elevated his stature after death and today only few dare to challenge the great Bulleh Shah as he lays peacefully in his grave in Kasur. Elite of the city pay handsomely to be buried near the man they had once snubbed.

Bulleh Shah’s poetry is mainly colored with the philosophy of re-union with the beloved — God. He believes in serving humanity and loving beyond regions and religions, something that he does not separate from worship of God.

We can relate to him as he was a product of our society. His overwhelming audacity and almost arrogant critique of the religious orthodoxy strikes upfront. His poetry is filled with direct attacks on mullahs:

Mullah and the torch-bearer, both from the same flock
Trying to give light to others; themselves in the dark

Bulleh Shah was a humanist. He provided solutions to sociological, political, cultural and religious problems of the world around him.His words preach religious tolerance and teach the art of agreeing to disagree peacefully — something that is the need of the hour in our times as well. He embarked on the mystical journey to search God whilst describing the turmoil his homeland, Punjab, was passing through.

His poetry highlights mystical spiritual journey through four stages of Sufism — Shariat (Path), Tariqat (Observance), Haqiqat (Truth) and Marfat (Union).

He starts from the rules defined by Islam, and eventually ends up where he accepts the existence of God, everywhere, with no bias between different religions, finally experiencing union with God.

Pointing at someone else’s faith would only unveil how weak one’s faith is. Picking up guns, instead of pens to enforce your way of thinking would never have an effect that the likes of Bulleh Shah had, through their soul-searching and heart-melting poetry.

O’ Bulleh Shah let’s go there
Where everyone is blind
Where no one recognizes our caste (or race, or family name)

Unfortunately, we have not provided high accolade to this great mystic poet in our educational curriculum. He is known to the youth only through artists like Abida Parveen, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Saeen Zahoor, Junoon and Noori.

And if questioned, how Bulleh changed me? Almost every time I hear Abida Parveen giving voice to his words I can imagine him singing and dancing to please the beloved, losing his caste, because love never had a caste or sect. I find myself dancing with him, at times. I find myself criticizing the authority our society has given to clergy.

In Pakistani society, hatred and differences are usually magnified and celebrating diversity is the need of the hour. Bulleh’s message if properly infused can fight extremism and inspire about a positive change which is much needed in these troubling times.

Neither Hindu nor Muslim,
Sacrificing pride, let us sit together.
Neither Sunni nor Shia,
Let us walk the road of peace!

When inquired with Raza Rumi, an intellectual and writer based in Lahore, about his views on the importance relaying the message that Bulleh Shah gave, he replied, “Bulleh’s poetry reflects his rejection of the orthodox hold of mullahs over Islam, the nexus between the clergy and the rulers and all the trappings of formal religion that created a gulf between man and his Creator. His message is clear and pertinent for the current crisis in Pakistan where the clergy has occupied public space and is nurturing a culture of intolerance.”

Bulleh’s poetry and its innate message can be a rallying point for a progressive Pakistan where humanism can prevail. In the current dark times, we have to reclaim Bulleh Shah and introduce the rich, plural heritage of Pakistan to the youth and younger generations.

Tear down the Mosque, tear down the temple
Tear down every thing in sight
But don’t (tear down) break anyone’s heart
Because God lives there

The world is becoming polarized, with hatred being fed to masses everyday, on religious and ethnic grounds. Instead of burning it down, we have to repair the damage done — stitch by stitch and any such voice which attempts to build these ideals should be glorified if we dream to make this world a better place for coming generations. One such voice is that of Bulleh Shah.

How true were his words about his own physical death:

Bulleh Shah asaa’n marna naahi; gor pya koi hor!  [Bulleh Shah! I will not die; someone else lays in the grave]

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi


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Dr. Muhammad Allama Iqbal ,who was ardent follower of Rumi, perhaps the greatest Sufi poet of all time, openly criticized the self-proclaimed guides of the religion. However, it is satirical that mullahs of the same breed quote verses of Iqbal to support their pose, yet his poetry is filled with open disapproval of them. Here he bashes out at Mullahs in his famous “The Mullah and the Paradise”

When in a vision I saw
A mullah ordered to paradise,
Unable to hold my tongue
I said something in this wise:

‘Pardon me, O Lord
For these bold words of mine,
But he will not be pleased
With houris and the wine

He loves to dispute and fight
And furiously wrangle,
But paradise is no place
For this kind of jangle

His task is to dis-unite
And leave people in the lurch,
But paradise has no temple
No mosque and no church

– translated by Naeem Siddiqui

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Mystifying is the turn of time, indeed. The same Allama Iqbal who was given fatwa’s on, by his contemporary “Mullahs” is now quoted by well-reputed Mullahs of the same school of thought.

The same Bulleh Shah, who had been refused by the mullahs to be buried after his death in the community graveyard because of his unorthodox views, today enjoys worldwide reverence and is quoted by contemporary mullahs. The tomb of Bulleh Shah in Qasur and the area around it is today the only place free of collective refuse, and the privileged of the city pay handsomely to be buried in the proximity of the man they had once rejected.

Maulana Rum (aka Rumi), who was condemned as a kaafir, is not only the top selling poet across the globe but is held in high reverence by people of all religions.

I have written on this topic previously, the verses of Bulleh Shah force me to write again. Every word that was misinterpreted by mullahs, can serve a cure for all the ills we are facing in our times.

Chal Way Bullehya Chal O’thay Chaliyay
Jithay Saaray Annay
Na Koi Saadee Zaat PichHanay
Tay Na Koi Saanu Mannay
 
O’ Bulleh Shah let’s go there
Where everyone is blind
Where no one recognizes our caste (or race, or family name)
And where no one believes in us
 
Masjid Dha Day, Mandir Dha Day
Dha Day Jo Kujh Disda
Par Kissay Da Dil Na Dhawee(n)
Rub Dilaa(n) Wich Wasda
 
Tear down the Mosque, tear down the temple
Tear down every thing in sight
But don’t (tear down) break anyone’s heart
Because God lives there
 
Hindu na nahi musalmaan,
Baheeye tiranjan taj abhimaan.
Sunni na naheeN ham sheeya
Sulha kuhl ka maarag leeya.
 
Neither Hindu nor Muslim,
Sacrificing pride, let us sit together.
Neither Sunni nor Shia,
Let us walk the road of peace.

 

Props to Junoon, Rabbi, Abida Parveen, Saeen Zahoor and other musicians of our times for helping the new generation in rediscovering the message of Bulleh Shah. Junoon started the trend and was labeled as “Sufi Rock Band” – The message that pierced my heart was through them, when I was 12.

This first aspect of Bulleh Shah’s poetry and philosophy that strikes upfront is his bold and almost arrogant critique of the religious orthodoxy of his day; specifically the Islamic religious orthodoxy. His poetry is filled with direct attacks on anyone claiming control over religion.

Mulla tay mashaalchi dohaan ikko chit
Loukan karday chananan, aap anhairae vich
 
Mullah and the torch-bearer, both from the same flock
Trying to give light to others; themselves in the dark 

 

Bulleh Shah’s poetry portray him as a humanist. Someone providing solutions to the sociological/political/cultural problems of the world around him, describing the turbulence his homeland of Punjab is passing through, while simultaneously searching for God. His poetry highlights his mystical spiritual journey through the four stages of Sufism – Shariat (Path), Tariqat (Observance), Haqiqat (Truth) and Marfat (Union). He starts from the rules as laid down by Islam, and eventually ends up at a point where he accepts the existence of God, everywhere, with no discrimination between different religions, finally becoming one with God.

Pointing at someone else’s faith would only unveil how weak your faith is. Picking up guns, instead of pens to enforce your way of thinking would never have an effect that the likes of Bulleh Shah had through his soul-searching and heart-melting poetry.

Islam was never spread by sword. It wouldn’t be the fastest growing religion on earth if that were the case. Islam is spread by the message of love and by deeds, not the way Taliban “ENFORCE” it.

Lord Almighty Himself says:

There shall be no compulsion in religion – [2:256]

I cannot help pasting the verse below:

Bulleh-a aashiq hoyiyon Rabb da, Hoai Malamat Lakh
Tenon Kafir Kafir aakhdey, toon aaho aaho aakh

O Bulleh, just love your God and ignore the chidings
When they say you are an infidel, say “yes I am one”

 

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